Ernest Heinrich Marcuse was born on the 1st of December 1900 to Hedwig and Siegmund Marcuse in Berlin Germany.
While Marcuse's artistic talent was apparent from a younger age, his earliest existing artwork was from when he was approximately 20 years old. Ernest's formal art training commenced in 1918 with a three year course at the Berlin school of Interior design. After completion he found work until 1924 when Germany's Great Depression took effect.
To broaden his career opportunities he undertook a further 12 months study of fashion, drawing and advertising at Berlin's Reiman school of art.
From 1925 to 1934 Ernest was primarily a freelance press artist specialising in industrial, architectural and figurative drawing. Prominent newspaper The Berliner Morgenpost was his largest client along with Gross Deutsche Rundfunaustellung (Germany's organisation for major trade shows). During this period he would create many significant works.
Two months after Hitler and the Nazi part came to power in 1933, Ernest received a life changing letter stating that being Jewish he could no longer continue employment in Germany. Up until 1938 he would only be able to undertake private commissions and occasional unofficial work as a book illustrator and games designer. This was by arrangement with non Jewish artists who claimed his work as their own, they would then share the income with Ernest.
With increasing unrest in Germany during late 1938 Ernest decided to move to London and there he married his girlfriend Lotte. In late 1939 Ernest and Lotte Marcuse embarked on an eight week journey to their new home in Australia where they had been accepted as refugees. Shortly after arriving in Australia Ernest presented his portfolio to an editor at the Argus newspaper and gained employment as a war events illustrator. He soon became well respected and known in particular for his detailed illustrations and cross sections of ships , artillery and aircrafts. His detailed depictions of battles were displayed on the front pages of The Argus newspaper on a number of occasions.
In May 1940 as the war intensified Ernest was dismissed from The Argus newspaper due to his Australian government classification of 'stateless person of enemy origin' and was considered a potential security risk. The editor of the time commented "don't blame us, blame Hitler".
Marcuse then began to establish himself as a commercial artist. Ernest was de-classified as a 'stateless person of enemy origin' and in early 1942. The Australian army heard of Ernest's artistic abilities and began to utilize his designs for visual training aids and posters.
Ernest became Private E.H Marcuse V377746, his first army posting was as staff artist at The infantry officer's training school at Bonegilla. When off duty he was inspired by the beauty of the surrounding area creating the works in North east Victoria 'Kiewa river bridge', 'Hume weir', ' Dried up river bed' and 'Hawksview gold reef mine' from his 1942-1943 period at Bonegilla Victoria.
Ernest returned to the area to create drawings and paintings from 1948 to 1983 in locations including Bright, Wandilligong, Bogong High plains and Wallace's Hut, Mt Buffalo, Beechworth, Pretty valley, Kiewa Hydro, Yackandandah and Bontherambo homestead. These sketches were often completed on location, photographs were also taken onsite to assist the works back at the studio. Occasionally Marcuse also painted in the field.
Ernest's preferred choice of medium was pencil and ink. Up until 1952 he would often incorporate watercolour into his work. Later into his career he began introducing pastels, acrylic and mixed media.
In earlier years Ernest Marcuse often signed his work Mar, later on the signing of works ranged from Marcuse, E.Marcuse, Ernest Marcuse, EHM or simply EM . If a work was considered incomplete or Marcuse did not like the work it would remain unsigned.
From Bonegilla Marcuse was transferred to Woodside South Australia before his final posting in Melbourne until the end of 1945. Ernest's work from within his army posting 'Troop Train at Night' from his 1945 exhibition Australia at War are part of the permanent collection at Canberra's War Museum.
Between 1946 and 1969 Ernest largely worked from home and concentrated on a career as a freelance commercial artist and graphic designer. During that time he created work for well known household names including CRA/Conzinc, Vacuum oil (Caltex), Cottee's Brand (Schweppes and Heinz), Home Beautiful magazine Fulton garden supplies, International Iveco trucks, Ego pharmaceuticals, QV and Sunsense.
After retirement Ernest concentrated on his true love of fine art and focused on painting images of personal interest both across Australia and Internationally. Earnest never drove a car. He would often walk or use public transport or enlist in the help of family or artist friends to drive him.
Throughout his career Ernest Marcuse's artworks were purchase by private collectors these included ACTU, Melbourne City council, Holland Constructions, Melbourne Metropolitan Tramways Board, GJ Coles and Australian Resources Bank.
Ernest Marcuse permanent collections can be viewed at The National Gallery of Victoria , Sydney Jewish Museum, Jewish Holocaust Centre Melbourne, Canberra's War Museum, City of Melbourne, Shire of Yarra ranges and now the Burke Museum.
© 2020 Art by Marcuse https://www.artbymarcuse.com.au/about
Pen and pencil landscape drawing on paper.
Inscriptions & markings
MARCUSE / YACKANDANDAH /
Y 3 / 014 /
- ernest marcuse,
- burke museum,
- indigo shire,
- pen and pencil,
- australian army,
- war events illustrator,
- the age,
- the sun,
- the argus,
- industrial drawing,
- architectual drawing,
- figure drawing,
- berliner morgenpost,
- grosse deutsche rundfunaustellung,
- berlin’s reiman school of art.,
- cultural gifts program